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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Harbury Cutting and Tunnel: gwrhc1485

Great Western Railway 2-8-0 28xx class No 2834 hauling a class H unfitted through freight train of Iron Ore empties in Whitnash Cutting

Great Western Railway 2-8-0 28xx class No 2834 hauling a class H unfitted through freight train of Iron Ore empties (some Guest, Keen and Baldwin) south on the up line in Whitnash Cutting in1935. This train is almost certainly heading for the Oxfordshire Ironstone Company (O.I.C.) quarries at Banbury, having originated in South Wales and travelled via the Honeybourne line, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bearley and Hatton. No.2834 was built at Swindon works in May 1911 with works No.2393 as part of lot 181 and was superheated from new. The 28xx class were superb heavy freight engines when they were built and in the superheated form had a tractive effort of 35,380lb. Most of the class remained working until the end of steam. They reliably operated both the heavy coal traffic from the South Wales collieries to the principle conurbations and also the unseen elite named vacuum freight services which operated nightly. No.2834 was known to be allocated to Pontypool Road shed (PPRD) in January 1921 and to St Philips Marsh shed (SPM) in January 1934, January 1935 and January 1938.

The lack of good quality steam coal at the end of the Second World War initiated a trial involving locomotives burning fuel oil instead of coal and in July 1947 No.2834 was converted as part of this trial. Converted locomotives were renumbered to aid identification and No.2834 was renumbered No.4808. Prior to nationalisation in December 1947, this locomotive was allocated to Laira shed (LA) in Plymouth and was there in August 1948. Laira shed was one of the sixteen locations that the Great Western Railway chose for the installation of oil storage tanks and refuelling capability as part of their oil burning trial. Unfortunately although the trial was technically successful, the cost of fuel oil was prohibitively expensive and the trial locomotives were reconverted back to coal firing and given back their old numbers (for No.2834 this occurred in January 1950). No.2834 was eventually withdrawn from Didcot shed (81E) in December 1962 and scrapped at Swindon Works in February 1963.

Robert Ferris